Retail News Breaks Archives
SF health plan keeps access to Walgreens
December 2nd, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO – A health plan in San Francisco is retaining member access to Walgreens pharmacies next year by switching to a new pharmacy benefits management (PBM) provider.
Chinese Community Health Plan (CCHP), the health plan subsidiary of Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, said Friday that starting in January it plans to transition to PBM Navitus Health Solutions "to provide its members with improved prescription drug services and continued access to Walgreens pharmacies."
CCHP noted that the move to Navitus means that CCHP members won't be impacted by the dispute between Walgreens and PBM Express Scripts Inc., which are at an impasse in contract talks. Walgreens had announced this summer that as of Jan. 1, 2012, it will no longer participate in the pharmacy provider network of Express Scripts.
A health care system primarily serving San Francisco residents, CCHP said its members would have faced difficulty in getting pharmacy access without Walgreens as a service option. The health plan pointed out that in San Francisco Walgreens is a leading pharmacy provider and operates the city's only 24-hour pharmacies.
"Our concern is for the continuity of care for the residents we serve in this area. Having access to medications in a timely fashion is an important part of their overall health care," Larry Loo, director of business development and operations CCHP, said in a statement. "Removing access from a neighborhood Walgreens to another drug store downtown or in a different part of the city could generate scenarios in which seniors or other individuals cannot fully access the medicines they need."
Shawn Houghtaling, San Francisco district pharmacy supervisor for Walgreens, commented, "We are thrilled that Walgreens and the Chinese Community Health Plan will remain working together in 2012. CCHP customers are welcome to continue using our Walgreens stores and pharmacies in Chinatown, on San Bruno Avenue, on Irving Street, on Clement Street and all over San Francisco."
Since announcing in late June that it plans to exit Express Scripts pharmacy provider network, Walgreens has been working to move forward largely without the pharmacy benefit manager.
Last month Walgreens said it has reached an agreement with health insurer EmblemHealth Inc. that allows EmblemHealth and Connecticare members to retain access to the Walgreens pharmacy network in 2012. Also in November, Walgreens launched an awareness campaign with health insurer Coventry Health Care to educate employers in select market areas about how they can maintain employee access to the chain's pharmacy services.
And in October, Walgreens announced an agreement to remain in the Express Scripts pharmacy network for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and that the drug chain and Express Scripts have agreed to allow members of MMM Healthcare and PMC Medicare Choice, two health benefit plans in Puerto Rico, to maintain access to Walgreens pharmacies at the start of 2012.